The hub is intended to be the region’s “premiere Black-led enterprise center devoted to assisting under-served entrepreneurs” and will provide physical space for business owners of color to set up shop, offer entrepreneurial support services and create a collaborative environment.
Hughes said WEDC has reached the end of its lease with the state Department of Administration for the agency’s current office space and the hub offers the opportunity to downsize to a smaller space and have more direct contact with business owners and entrepreneurs.
“We’ve really looked for a space that is embedded in economic development in Wisconsin where things are happening and changing, because as much as we can be on the forefront of understanding what our businesses are experiencing, we can also be developing the tools to help them,” Hughes said.
Urban League president and CEO Ruben Anthony said with WEDC as the hub’s anchor tenant the hub will boast the largest concentration of support services for minority-owned businesses in the state.
“Having WEDC move there is going to be like adding rocket fuel to the work that we’re already doing,” Anthony said.
The hub is planned to be a four-story, approximately 76,000-square-foot building that would replace a portion of the mall’s parking lot where South Park Street meets Hughes Place. At least 15 businesses are expected to have a permanent presence in the hub, with temporary kiosks or pop-up-style setups for another seven to 10 businesses.